easy-to-use Violin Resource




Joseph Haydn (1732-1809)

HISTORY                         Composers


Violin History & Timeline






Gamba, etc. 

The Roots of Famous Violinists



















Violin                                  Viola          Cello                                    Bass                                    Viol                   Bows                                               Tales             


Interesting  Sites      


Antique Instruments

Historical Photos

Joseph Haydn lived during a period when music left the bounds of the church, and became central to the lives of the nobility. This great composer advanced the development of classical music, encouraging the use of new musical forms such as the sonata, the symphony, and the string quartet. Haydn, a man of humble beginnings, was born on March 31, 1732 in Lower Austria. His father was a wagoner, and his mother was a cook. Although his parents could barely support their children, Haydn’s father wanted Haydn to have the opportunity to discover music. As the young boy began to show a great inclination toward music, he was sent to live with Johann Frankh, a relative and professional musician who directed Haydn’s musical studies.

At the young age of five, Haydn was placed under the tyrannical reign of Frankh. Although Frankh was an excellent music teacher who rigorously taught his pupil harmony, composition, harpsichord playing, and violin playing, Frankh viciously abused Haydn. The child was mercilessly beaten, and severely mistreated. Thus, when the Kapellmeister of St. Stephen’s Church in Vienna selected Haydn as a new choir member, Haydn was not reluctant to go.

Although he was free of Frankh’ s miserable household, Haydn did not find life at St. Stephen’s much easier. Supplies were scarce, and the children were often malnourished and cold. The Kapellmeister, Karl Reutter, was impatient with the boys, and he especially disliked Haydn. Reutter neglected Haydn’s musical studies, and Haydn had to learn on his own. He bought and studied musical treatises, practiced the harpsichord, and tried to write church music. At the age of seventeen Haydn’s voice cracked, and he left the choir. A kind friend by the name of Spangler shared his meager resources with Haydn. Soon, Haydn took on a few students of his own, and was able to support himself.

Haydn met and became friendly with Pietro Metastasio, the imperial court poet. Metastasio facilitated Haydn’s first job by encouraging the opera composer, Niccolo Popora, to hire Haydn as an accompanist. Through Popora, Haydn was able to meet many leading musicians. Later, Baron Furnberg sought Haydn’s services for the writing of new works for the parties he regularly held. Haydn accepted the Baron’s patronage, and joined his household. Within a short time, however, Count Maximilian wanted Haydn to write for him, and encouraged the young composer to leave the Baron’s palace. Haydn did choose to move, and it was for Count Maximilian that Haydn’s first symphony was composed. Thus, the patronage of noblemen enabled Haydn to sustain a stable standard of living while expanding his musical talents.

In 1760, Haydn began his unhappy marriage to Anna Maria Keller. He had actually been in love with her younger sister. However, when the younger sister suddenly joined a convent, Haydn took Anna Maria as his bride instead. Anna Maria and Haydn were totally unsuitable for one another, and they fought frequently. They separated after a few years, and Haydn continued to provide for her until he died.

Haydn spent the next three decades writing for Prince Esterhazy. He was in charge of directing the musical performances at the prince’s palace, and he wrote many of his greatest works during this period. He became a well renowned composer, and even the empress of Austria, Maria Theresa, extended great honors toward him. Yet, fame did not change Haydn’s humble and honest nature. He wrote for God alone, and began each one of his works with the words, “In the name of the lord”.

The position at Esterhaz concluded once Haydn’s employer died, and within a few months an Englishman, Johann Salomon, commissioned the writing of a set of new symphonies. Haydn moved to London and was overwrought by the amount of attention he received. He was continually invited to dinners and events, and was constantly writing, rehearsing, and performing new pieces. During this busy time, Haydn’s concerts proved to be a tremendous success.

Haydn spent his later years in Vienna, where he wrote the Austrian national anthem. He distanced himself from the world as his mind began to deteriorate. Around his seventy sixth birthday, Prince Esterhazy organized a performance of Haydn’s works. The Prince sent his personal carriage for Haydn, and the brilliant composer received tremendous homage from an ecstatic audience. Haydn prepared diligently for his death, remembering everyone who had helped him in his will. He passed away in 1809, and Napoleon ordered a special procession to be held in the honor of this remarkable man.

Notes by Shanaira Udwadia (May-2001)